cultural proficiency journeyBook Author: Campbell Jones et al. (2010)

The diversity in today's schools is continually increasing and educators are being called upon to teach every child, regardless of race, class, gender, disability, or other indicators of difference. This raises questions such as:

  • What are the most effective instructional techniques needed to educate students from diverse backgrounds?
  • What levels of cultural knowledge do teachers and leaders need to educate children from diverse backgrounds?
  • And in what ways can schools fulfill their responsibility to educate every child? (p. iv)

In The Cultural Proficiency Journey (2010), Franklin CampbellJones, et al, shares a framework for guiding schools and school systems in answering these questions. The author's intent in offering this framework is to guide schools to profound changes in policies, practices, and procedures that will move them towards an excellent and equitable education for all children, rather than for selected students.

The tools of cultural proficiency provide access to educational opportunities that result in high academic achievement among historically underserved students. Four tools make up this interactive, interdependent framework:

  • The guiding principles of cultural proficiency: a set of core values that provide educators with a framework to inform their actions in a culturally competent manner.
  • Barriers to cultural proficiency: recognizing that many systems still exist replicating historical oppression that prevents some school reform. With this understanding comes the work to overcome these barriers by addressing personal values, behaviors, and school policies.
  • The cultural proficiency continuum: six points along a continuum representing the various ways of responding to cultural difference.
  • The essential elements of cultural competence: five standards to guide individuals, schools, and/or districts in addressing policy and practices to meet the needs of different cultural groups.

Throughout Part I and the case studies of Part II, CampbellJones progresses the reader through the four tools while utilizing situations at the fictional Oakland Hills School system among administrators, teachers, and students. At the completion of Part I, a reader has been walked through the process of acknowledging the barriers to cultural proficiency, adopted guiding principles, and utilized the Cultural Proficiency Continuum to frame conversations. At this point, the reader is ready to address the five essential elements and ask the difficult questions of themselves as well as their colleagues going through the process. Are we effective in our instructional strategies? Is our professional development relevant? Are our assessments measuring what we are setting out to measure, and what is our system of outreach?

In order to reach "cultural competence," an educator or system must embrace these five essential elements and make a conscious commitment to social justice, advocacy, mentoring, and leveling the playing field for all students. CampbellJones (2010) states it is "doing what we are supposed to be doing" (p. 28) and this book offers solid guidance to that end.

 cultural proficiency image
 Image from CampbellJones' book, the Cultural Proficiency Journey.

CampbellJones, F., CampbellJones, B., & Lindsey, R. (2010). The Cultural Proficiency Journey: Moving beyond ethical barriers toward profound school change. Corwin: A Sage Company. Thousand Oaks, CA.

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